THE REALITY OF LIVING IN LONDON
There's no denying that London has some real strong points. It's undeniably beautiful, it's a hub for all things creative, there's ALWAYS something to do on your doorstep and well, everything is just so goddamn convenient. I mean, come on, anywhere where you can have McDonalds delivered to your doorstep in the early hours of the morning must be a winner, right? Trust me, I'm all for a box of McNuggets but is that enough? I don't want to speak too ill of the nations favourite city but there's definitely a few things that have been on my mind.
I feel like there are two types of people who live in London; there are the people who have pension plans, savings, and a homemade bottle of almond milk in their Smeg fridge. Let's just say, I can't even begin to fathom the workings of a pension plan. I was actually raised in the seaside city Brighton, but seemingly like every other person in the world, I moved back to the big city about 4 years ago after University and up until fairly recently, I would've said I was a 'London gal' through and through.
While the online version of my London life is filled with fancy brunches decorated with pretty flower petals, long strolls by the Thames and endless *heart eye emoji* worthy houses courtesy of Notting Hill, the reality isn't always as Insta-worthy. I've been spending a bit of time out of London recently and it has put a few things into perspective for me.
IT REALLY IS SOUL DESTROYING LEVELS OF EXPENSIVE
Everyone knows that the cost of living in London is extortionate, like excruciatingly so. The reality is that the ever-inflating prices of rent, travel, food and drink make it almost hard to survive here, even if you're on a relatively decent salary. You'll rely on things like happy hour where, like clockwork, everyone will stampede toward the bar at 6:55 and order 8 cocktails before the prices triple again. Saving whilst living in London is also near enough impossible and if I'm honest, the majority of people live in their ever-increasing overdrafts.
The irony of London is that everyone moves here because there is so much excitement and soooo many things that can be done. But the fundamental cost of living in London is so expensive that most people can’t actually afford to enjoy the city they work so hard for and pay so much to live in. However, you'll still find the money to moan about this fact to your pals over a coffee / glass (let's be real -bottle) of wine.
"SIGNAL FAILURES" ARE THE NORM
If I read through the text messages between me and my ex-boss, amongst the office gossip, there are countless messages where I'm apologising profusely for running late due to signal failures. And the thing is, I'm German... so naturally, I'm programmed with an absolute need and desire to be efficiently on time and so when TFL gets in my way, I'm not a happy bunny. However, delays give me more time to mentally prepare for the pure hell that consists of actually getting on the tube during rush hour. It really can be a blood, sweat and tears situation - just with more sweat.
FLAT-SHARING IS NECESSARY (AND CAN BE A B***H)
It's laughable to think that when I first moved to London, I thought that by my age, I'd be living in some penthouse overlooking the river. And well, that dream is quite far from reality, I do live in a lovely part of London that is NEAR the river but I also live with two other girls. In short, the only way I could afford that penthouse is if I started selling organs... or other parts of my body (and fortunately, we're not that desperate yet!) Of course, you have to find the flat and flatmates first, which is a challenge in itself. There are the adverts that read "cosy" (a shed), "split-level" (bedsit), and "loft conversion" (attic). And, then, once you've finally found a flat, after a couple of weeks of polite niceties, soon begin the passive aggressive texts / emails over foundation-stained towels or the usage and repurchase of communal spices. YAWN.
SHOPPING IN REAL LIFE IS A NO GO
I feel like there’s this expectation that every Londoner spends their weekends immersing themselves in all of the tourist hot spots, which is far from reality. The reality is far more likely to include a takeaway and back-to-back episodes on Netflix. I know I’m not alone in saying that, most days, I’d rather get the plague than shuffle through Covent Garden at 2mph behind a bunch of school kids. And well, Oxford Street is just a whole other story.
Anyone who has lived in London for any length of time knows never to go shopping on Oxford Street. Especially when it's raining - unless you have a desire to get your eye poked out by a tourist's umbrella. So, I like to resort to a little thing called online shopping, the guilt of which can be washed away with a few glasses of wine. Told ya about the drinking. Of course, you're then soberly reminded of how much you spent when the package shows up. But, on the other hand, there’s the pure joy of receiving a package, and how (hopefully) fantastic you look in your purchase, and just the newness, oh, the newness. And, failing all of that, there’s always more wine to dull the self-loathing.
It's safe to say that it's my group of friends that make down days in the city bearable. Collectively, we've weathered years of underpaid jobs, dated a share of London's finest w**kers, and spent too much money on designer bags / booze / takeaway coffees while bemoaning the fact we'll never be able to buy a house — and, have somehow come out the other side relatively unscathed and marginally better paid.
London has proven beneficial to me in so many ways, especially so to my career - with it's countless picturesque backdrops for photos, networking events, new pop ups to review all the time etc and so I'll always have a soft spot for it. Do I think I'll stay here forever? I doubt it. But for now, I'm making the most of it, as best as I can!